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Predators rise, Blues and Hawks slide prior to break

by Dave Lozo
There's not a lot that's changed since last week's Super 16, with most teams only playing one game before the All-Star break. But there's been enough new information to shake things up a little bit as most of the League takes a rest.

The Blues came up virtually empty in two tough matchups against the Red Wings and Penguins, while the Predators completed a clean sweep of the Blackhawks before heading off for the holiday. Both teams saw their positions take big swings.

How did the rest of the standings change during the short week? Let's take a look:

1 N.Y. Rangers (31-12-4) 1 It seems like everyone was waiting for the wheels to come off, but the Rangers quietly won three of four entering the break.
2 Detroit (32-16-1) 2 After winning seven straight, let's give the Wings a mulligan for their 7-2 loss in Montreal. It was on the road, right before the break, and without a sick Nicklas Lidstrom.
3 Nashville (30-16-4) 5
The Preds have won 12 of 14, with their only losses coming against the Rangers without Ryan Suter and the Stars in Shea Weber's first game back from a concussion.
4 Boston (31-14-2) 4 The Bruins have allowed 19 goals in their last five games and have lost four of seven. No team among the League leaders needed the rest more than Boston.
5 St. Louis (29-13-7) 3 Here's a stat that could be jarring or could be nothing, but the Blues have two wins against a top-eight team in either conference since Dec. 15. They beat the Rangers 4-1 and Wild 3-2 in a shootout.
6 Vancouver (30-15-4)
Remember that time earlier this season when Roberto Luongo's job was in danger? He's at 20-10-4 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Critics have been quiet.
7 Pittsburgh (28-17-4) 9
Evgeni Malkin has been red-hot, but how about Kris Letang in his first four games back from a concussion? He has 2 goals and 2 assists while playing about 26 minutes a night.
8 Philadelphia (29-14-5) 8
Be sure to set your DVRs, PVRs, tape players, whatever for Tuesday. It's Flyers-Jets, part three. The Jets won the first two meetings 9-8 and 6-4. Will there be another goal-fest in store?
9 Chicago (29-15-6) 7 Will the rough and tumble Central wear down the Blackhawks? They are 7-3-2 in the division, but 1-2-2 in their last five with the one win coming against Columbus.
10 San Jose (27-14-6) 11 Oilers coach Tom Renney remarked the Sharks are a team that usually gets hot late. They've lost four of six, so now would be a good time for the Pacific-leading Sharks to heat up.
11 Los Angeles (24-16-10) 12 The optimist says the Kings have captured at least a point in 16 of 18 games. The pessimist says they've earned a point for losing six times in that stretch. Which are you?
12 Washington (26-19-3) 14 Thanks to a 5-2-1 run to the break, the Capitals have taken the lead in the Southeast away from the Panthers. Is it inevitable that they run away with the division now?
13 Ottawa (27-19-6) 10
Despite a three-game losing streak, the Sens remain in sixth in the East with 60 points. However, they've played more games (52) than any team in the NHL.
14 New Jersey (26-19-3) 13 Things get harder for the slipping Devils post-break. Five of the first six games are against the Rangers (twice), Flyers, Blues and Penguins.
15 Toronto (25-19-5) NR
It was a roller-coaster January. The Leafs won four straight, lost three straight, then won three of four. Jonas Gustavsson went 7-3 while James Reimer lost his only start.
16 Florida (22-15-11) 15 They have just two wins in January, but are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games. They get the Caps coming out of the break in a game that's almost a must-win.
If you have any problems, questions, anger or praise for this list, you can let me know on Twitter: @davelozo
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